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Do you have questions about Zika virus? Please submit your questions to NIHB using the box below. Relevant questions will be answered and posted anonymously. You can also submit anonymously, but consider providing your contact information if you would like additional assistance or information from NIHB.

Zika Virus Frequently Asked Questions

Question: If a woman who is not pregnant is bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus, can the virus be activated later when she becomes pregnant?

Answer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, “Currently, there is no evidence that a woman who has recovered from Zika virus infection (the virus has cleared her body) will have Zika-related pregnancy complications in the future. Based on information about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus and has cleared the virus from his or her body, he or she is likely to be protected from future Zika infections. If you’re thinking about having a baby in the near future and you or your partner live in or traveled to an area with risk of Zika, talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider.” This page for Women and Their Partners Trying to Become Pregnant provides information on recommended timeframes and other advice for couples depending on their situations – such as type of exposure and gender (as Zika virus can remain in semen for longer than it remains in other bodily fluids). Since many pregnancies are unplanned, it may also be helpful to talk to a healthcare provider about preventing unintended pregnancies if you decide you do not want to have a baby right now. However, these are general recommendations and it is advised to speak to a healthcare provider about your situation and circumstances, since decisions about having children are deeply personal and may involve many factors and considerations; some couples may choose to delay pregnancy while others may not.

Note that many people infected with Zika virus do not have symptoms and do not know that they were infected, but they can spread the virus to others. Protecting yourself from Zika or from spreading Zika can also protect others in your family, community, or Tribe – learn more HERE.

Note: This is not medical advice.

How does Zika interact with other chronic, infectious diseases (such as HIV or HCV)?

While there have been reports of an increase in concerning health effects (e.g., congenital microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome) concurrent with the ongoing Zika virus outbreak, we do not currently have systematic data on risk factors for severe Zika virus disease. There are also few published data on infections in individuals with conditions that could compromise their immune response, including HIV, and outcomes vary. For more information, please visit cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/hiv-zika.html. We do know that for West Nile virus, a related flavivirus, immunosuppression does appear to be a risk factor for more severe disease. Similarly, serious adverse events are more likely following administration of live yellow fever vaccine, which is also a related flavivirus. However, we do not know whether Zika virus would pose a similar risk in immunosuppressed patients.

I live on a waterway that is a breeding area for mosquitoes but also is populated by waterfowl that are a source of food for our communities. What are the possibilities of a mosquito infecting a bird and then the bird being consumed by a human – can Zika be transmitted through this manner?

Unlike West Nile virus which is normally transmitted between birds and mosquitoes, Zika virus is transmitted between humans and mosquitoes. Birds are not known to be a part of the transmission cycle and there is no expected impact on water fowl.

Is there a vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease?

No. More research and funding is needed in this area.

Who is responsible for vector control on Tribal lands?

One of the primary methods used for vector control for Zika virus is the spraying of insecticides to eliminate. It should be said that the authority to decide and initiate any manner of vector control resides with the Tribes. Once a decision has been made to undertake vector control efforts (which includes spraying insecticides to kill the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that are known to carry and transmit the Zika virus), the responsibility could lay with a number of different entities. The Indian Health Service, Division of Environmental Health Services, has a vector control and communicable disease program that has maintains responsibility for disease prevention on Tribal lands. According to the IHS website, “[n]ationally, concerns regarding West Nile virus, Hantavirus, Zika virus, H1N1, and many other environmental health issues, illustrate the complex environment where humans reside. In some instances the infectious organisms remain unnoticed until a noticeable amount of disease presents itself. DEHS [Division of Environmental Health Services] funding is used to prevent and control environmental health risks that contribute to disease.”* If the Tribe has contracted or compacted its environmental health services, then it will be the responsibility of the Tribe to conduct vector control activities. If the land in question is on national park lands, then the it is the responsibility of the National Park Service to conduct vector control activities (under the auspice of their own insecticide use policy which states that the National Park Service will not use insecticides without a provide public health necessity). Any federal entity that undertakes vector control activities on or near Tribal lands are required to consult with Tribes within the area first.

More Information


NIHB Contacts:

Jessica Dean, DrPH, MSPH
Public Health Policy and Programs Project Coordinator

National Indian Health Board
50 F St NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-507-4083
[email protected]


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National Indian Health Board
50 F St NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC 20001 | Phone: 202-507-4070 | Email: [email protected]